Monday, 1 November 2010

Fishing For Information

Feeling Hungry?

It is highly likely that the internal rate of return your organisation is reaping from its investment in business intelligence is less than it could be, due to some mundane, real life challenges which may not be mentioned in the boardroom or corridors of power.

Many people in your organisation only need to analyse corporate data sporadically and If it’s outside of their routine work they may have limited time to dedicate to the task.

Hence having the right tools for the job depends on several other factors:

    * knowing where to look – this may have changed since the last time they needed something
    * having the necessary access rights –these may have expired or the person may need something new
    * knowing not only how to use the tool(s) but also how to get it working with their own data

These type of challenges mean that people will sometimes find their own ways to manufacture corporate information, or give up trying.

Silver Bullet?

There are several recognised methodologies for getting people the numbers they need, yet these problems persist. Whilst there may not be a silver bullet, could there be a silver fish?

We know from history that “give a man a fish he will eat for a day; teach him to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime” - how has this been applied to BI?

Firstly organisations created what might be called fish farms – teams or people responsible for finding numbers out on users’ behalf. This can result in bottlenecks getting answers.

Next they invested in rolling out rods, tackle and bait – giving people the tools they need to get the answers themselves, often supported by a function commonly referred to as a business intelligence competency centre (BICC) or centre of excellence. This model can be complex to implement, as you will know if you have looked into the details.

So whilst a BICC may be the ideal, how can you make the first steps to get there?

The “Teach a Man to fish” Service
How about putting in place an enablement service – a “999” number / email anyone can contact to get answers – the twist being instead of providing the answer it instructs the user on how to is how to find it themself.

This sets the groundwork for expanding into a more sophisticated support provision, whilst teaching your organisation to fish for itself.

It is not, however, without investment. The service needs the resources and knowledge of the organisation to advise on overcoming the problems mentioned in the first paragraph. In general it should be a service in its own right, to avoid falling into standard helpdesk procedures. It needs profile in order that it gets used.
When your employees start catching those fish though, it will be worth it.

Let us pray: God grant me strength to catch a fish so large that even I, when telling of it afterwards may never need to lie. Amen

Written by Angus Menter, Senior BI Consultant, DSCallards.
For further information visit:

No comments:

Post a Comment